Spellcaster (Spellbound #2)FeaturedHot
Reviewed by: Middle Sis Jenn
ARC received from Harlequin Teen via Net Galley
Release Date: 3-27-2012
The Sisters Say: A breathtaking blow by blow of bewitchment and beguiling romance!
If you liked Spellbound, you are going to LOVE Spellcaster! I couldn’t put it down! Cara Lynn Shultz definitely upped her game with more magic, more mystery, and more mahem! (Not to mention more make-out scenes)!!!
I really loved to see the characters develop even more in this installment—especially Angelique! She is so much fun to read about—so much attitude that she had me laughing out loud at times. But then we also get to see a more sensitive side of her that we didn’t see in Spellbound. We also meet her cousin, Randi, a fellow witch who has some enjoyable moments as well.
Emma definitely undergoes some changes through this novel, too. That confidence that we begin to see at the end of Spellbound really takes off, which I love (because who doesn’t love a kick butt heroine), but I also like that her struggles were realistic (if you take out the fantasy part…hehe). I mean, it’s not like she snaps her fingers and all of a sudden she’s one of the Charmed ones. She has to work on her spells, and it’s really captivating to see her ups and downs as she struggles with this new aspect of her life.
And then…the best part—Brendan. We see so much more of him in Spellcaster. He’s just as overprotective in this installment, and it makes me love him so much more! Just like Emma, it’s great (and heart breaking) to see him struggle with the idea that all the danger Emma finds herself in is his fault. He’s the guy that every girl wants—compassionate, completely devoted, and overprotective to a fault—not to mention that he’s stunningly handsome. I absolutely adore him and can’t wait for more! The scenes between Emma and Brendan are a little more hot and heavy (but I still wish Cara Lynn Shultz would dive in with the details), but still PG, with one scene that hints at some PG-13 related content, but it’s still not extremely specific.
I actually really enjoyed the villain in this book, too—truly evil with a vendetta that, if you’re like me, might cause your heart to speed up (and for you to look behind your shoulder when walking anywhere alone). I won’t tell you any more, but I will say—I didn’t see this villain coming! Oh…and Kristin? She’s still there with a vengeance…but trust me…you’ll want to read this to see what Emma has in store for her!
What bugs me? I wish Cara Lynn Shultz would add an umbrella conflict to the series—a storyline that reaches from book to book, instead of just focusing on a different conflict for each book.
Overall, Spellcaster is a must read for those of you who enjoy paranormal romance novels. The action was fun and exciting with no dull moments! It comes out Tuesday…so go get it!
Whereas Spellbound seemed to revolve around breaking the curse of Emma and Brendan’s eternal reincarnation, Spellcaster revolved around protecting their true love. The prequel was definitely clichéd (come on, we all knew that the curse would be broken in the end), but this novel’s plot actually intrigued me. I’m not saying it was the best—no, it was nowhere near as interesting as some other novels I’ve read—but it was enough to let me keep flipping through the pages. I wanted to know who was trying so desperately to destroy Emma and Brendan’s true love and, more importantly, why that person was doing so.
Unfortunately, the novel was much too predictable. I easily figured out who was the culprit long before he/she was revealed. He/she was just mentioned much too many times, and I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. I also had suspicions as to why that person would go to such lengths, and I was right.
The mystery in this novel was what really pulled me in. If there wasn’t any mystery, I think I would have given up after fifty pages. But I had my suspicions, and because I always want to be right, I decided to continue reading. The mystery was predictable, but I could deal with that because Cara Lynn Shultz did manage to knock me off my feet a couple times.
I think I was most annoyed with the romance in this novel. I don’t know; maybe it’s just me, but I get really frustrated with lovey-dovey rainbows-and-sunshine cuteness galore romance. (That’s when I go looking for action novels with lots of guts involved.) I don’t want this deluge of hearts and unicorns. It’s not fun to read. But I will say that Emma and Brendan are as cute as they ever were, though I hate how they’re so hung up on whether they should have sex or not. (Like, gross. You’ve known each other for how long? And don’t give me the soul mate crap.)
Emma is no longer the Mary Sue she was in the prequel. She’s been taking some classes that have given her some extra punch (hi-yah!), and she’s definitely gotten stronger both physically and emotionally. However, I’m still really annoyed with her because she’s still that goody-two-shoes nice girl with the tragic past and the rich aunt. So, in a way, she’s still that Mary Sue.
Brendan is still a Marty Stue times one billion. There is absolutely no flaw that I could find in him, and that makes me want to pummel him into a pulp. (Yes, I hate perfect people, if you couldn’t tell.)
There is a minimal amount of description in the novel, which kind of irks me, but the diction irks me more. (Can’t you utilize some of those SAT vocabulary words, Cara Lynn Shultz?) The novel feels very blah to me because there isn’t anything special about the author’s writing style.
I’d like to comment that the changes in perspective were very random. Occasionally the point of view changes from Emma’s POV to Angelique’s POV and I think one time Brendan’s POV. The changes are necessary, I admit, but it feels very out of place. I think that they would have been much better accomplished just through dialogue.
Overall, I would consider Spellcaster an average novel. There’s nothing special about it, but there’s nothing that I absolutely hated about it. It had a (slightly) intriguing plot, but its characters were unrealistic and the writing was very mediocre. There could be much to improve.
Source: Galley received from publisher for review
Emma Connor isn't exactly shy—more like playful and protective, toting an arsenal of laughter-inspiring jokes that are equal parts clever and corny always awaiting to be unleashed upon her friends, and somehow end up being the right things to say in the most hopeless of times. She isn't necessarily optimistic, but she's strong and hopeful. And while she can be friendly and nice, she is awkward around large crowds and prefers sticking to her own small crew of important people, all of whom we are delighted to adore, which happens with relative ease. Brendan Salinger isn't the dark side to Emma's light, they're neither opposites nor are they exactly the same. They're just regular people who meet and fall in love... well, it's not as simple as that, and their falling in love may be lined up with destiny, BUT while it does seem all instalovey initially in Spellbound, Spellcaster gives us a wonderful show of a blissed out Emma and Brendan who know each other down to the amount of sugar they like in their cups of coffee, who know exactly how to comfort, support, and love each other in a way that isn't so sweet it grows tart but in a loved up, realistic phase just beyond the previous ones named Lust and Infatuation.
Honestly, the romance is, and will probably always be, the reason that keeps luring me back to these books, though the plot line and paranormal action do spike a nice dose of interest, kicking things up with magic and insane, obsessed villains. All the fuss just didn't seem necessary when that element of Spellcaster wasn't my focus. Even so, I imagine those who enjoy mysteries similar to those of Kim Harrington's Clarity series will find this particular aspect of the story lightly thrilling, which follows a pretty kick-butt climax. The ending, however, with all the enviable delicious sweetness of whip cream atop a satisfying sundae, I found to be more memorable, softening everything in me into a giant, relaxed, happy smile inside and out.
Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, 3/28/12
Reading Spellcaster after Goddess Interrupted definitely created an interesting juxtaposition. In the latter, Kate constantly whines about not being told anything and has to be protected; I don't think she'll be that way in book three, but in this one, oy. Anyway, Emma definitely does not do that. I mean, she cries sometimes and does like that Brendan's protective, but she also fights and hard for herself, her friends and her love. She doesn't just complain; she gets things done.
Even the soul mate thing could be really disgusting, like it is in a lot of YA books, Shultz deals with it gracefully. I actually like Emma and Brendan, and their relationship. In spite of the soul mate thing, they do have issues. Plus, I like that they're not rushing into everything. Even thought they've been through so much at the beginning of this book, they still haven't had sex, because Emma's not ready yet. I love that Shultz is showing that every relationship is different and that, no matter how in love two people are, that doesn't mean they're ready for that step. It's such a good, non-preachy message.
Much as I do like the characters, what really makes Shultz's books shine, though, is her fresh, funny voice. I laughed so many times during this book. Pretty much every quote I marked as I read through was one that made me giggle or snicker, as did the one I finally selected as my favorite. (Gotta love a heroine who knows her grammar!) The characters banter like real friends do, and I love it so much. Plus, Shultz's humor keeps the whole soul mate thing from being too serious, because even Emma and Brendan know it's kind of ridiculous, just like life.
Spellbound is an incredibly clever, humorous series. If you're looking for some fun YA books, look no further.
With that being said, however, I actually enjoyed this book. Did it rock my socks off? Not really, but I did laugh out loud a few times from the witty banter. The author did a great job making the characters believable (minus the relationship factor) when they spoke and interacted with one another. There were some great snippy one –liners in this book. I appreciated the snarky value of each and every one. Here is a small sampling of the snarky writing goodness: “The amount of boobage she was showing off, she probably could have hidden my math textbook in there. And my math teacher” (271). I seriously snorted when I read that. I found it to be hysterical. Every page of Spellcaster had at least one little snippy jewel waiting to be discovered. I loved that. Of course, by nature I’m a rather sarcastic person, so of course I would enjoy this.
I also enjoyed the plot. I had most of it figured out by page 280 or so, but it was still fun to see how things would play out. I will admit that the final outcome I anticipated did not occur. I really thought someone was going to get knocked off all Godfather style, but that didn’t happen. So, that door is wide open for book three. Oh, and there was a surprise at the end from book two that I didn’t expect either. I’ll be curious to see how that plays out. I’m predicting a skipped jail hearing or something. Pretty vague, huh? You betcha. You’ll have to read the book to find out who/what I’m talking about.
As for my one complaint… Emma and Brendan. Gag. As characters, I like them. Emma is uber strong and independent. She’s caring and fiercly loyal to those she loves. But when you put her with Brendan, I want to slap her. They took the whole “we’re soul mates for life” crap waaaay too far. It almost became ridiculous for me. I get that they are supposed to have this deep seeded love that lasts for eternity. That was clear in the first book, Spellbound. A reminder on every other page in Spellcaster was overkill. Honestly, it took away from the relationship as a whole because it made it seemed fake.
There were characters that I did enjoy—tremendously. Cisco was great, even if he didn’t have a huge role in the plot. His actions at the end of the book solidified my love of his character. But my absolute favorite character is Angelique. I.love.her. She is sarcastic, slightly bitter, and extremely complicated. She seems rough and tough on the outside, but she’s actually very caring once she gets to know you. I loved every aspect of her character! Throughout the book she seems to grow. Originally, she can’t stand Brendan. In facts she loathes him. But then they start to bond over their shared commitment to Emma. Add a little empathy skills to the mix, and suddenly Angelique is changing her mind about Brendan. Now, that doesn’t mean she’s running around wearing a Team Brendan shirt, but she learns to see past the man-whore outer shell.
If you enjoyed Spellbound, you’ll love this book. I have no doubts about that. Unfortunately, I had mixed feelings about the first book. Honestly, I don’t remember much about it. As I read through Spellcaster, I was reminded of key events that really didn’t linger in my memory. Not a good sign. I have a sneaky feeling that by the time the third book comes out, I won’t remember much about Spellcaster either. However, I will still read the final book in the series because I do want to see how things play out. This one was a quick read with overly hormonal teenagers forging the way through the plot. If you get annoyed by the quick and serious romance factor in YA books, be forewarned. Otherwise, this is a decent, enjoyable book—but a little hard to piece together if you haven’t read Spellbound. (So, either read it first, or do your homework with some thorough summaries/reviews.)